This arguably should have been my first video in the series. Whoops. In which I talk about Beth’s two collections, Odhroerir: Nine Devotional Tales of Odin’s Journey, and Water from the Well. (I’m also bare of face and in need of a shave, just to keep it real, and I don’t care! Hahahahahaaha!!!)
This is by no means a fancy video — I don’t know that I’m ever going to do fancy videos. It is, though, the first in what will hopefully be an awesome series featuring pagan-friendly fiction written by pagans.
First up: Jennifer Lawrence’s Fire on the Mountain.
(now I just need to figure out how to showcase e-books, since my e-reader device and my video recording device are the same. Fancy video editing may have to happen after all.)
Future videos already planned: Beth Wodandis, C.S. MacCath, Juli D. Revezzo, yes this is an excuse to finally get Deborah Blake’s books. Any suggestions are welcome!
Aside from the YouTube paganchallenge that I’m participating in, there are two other series that I’ll be making videos for. Both, surprisingly (you know, or not if you’ve been paying attention at all to my interests) are about books. For the one, I’ll be talking about books that have been important to my path, be they fiction or nonfiction. For the second, I’ll be reviving my Celebrating Pagan Fiction series, wherein I’ll be speaking about pagan-friendly fiction written by pagans.
The first in the Books That Matter series is up! Go, listen to me talk about Walking the Heartroad by Silence Maestas! And then, I dunno, maybe go buy a copy. (Maybe also check out his new book on worshiping Loki, too!)
Hail, Poseidon, Lord of Horses! I sing Your praise!
Hail, Poseidon, whose thundering hooves shake the very earth.
From Your seed did the horse spring,
From Your virility and Your generosity did this noble creature rush forth,
Companion to humankind, and so often, so awfully abused.
Shelter them, oh my Lord, for Your embrace is strong
and Your Love is boundless.
I pray to You, help us remember our debts.
Help us remember our partners in our lives,
Help us remember the advances of our species come upon the backs of others,
and may we be humbled.
May we be humbled
May we be humbled
I’ve been honoring Poseidon Hippios for a number of years, now. This was the first festival I “created” (quotes there because I’m sure I’m not the only one out there honor Poseidon’s various epithets with epithet-centered rituals) for Poseidon, the first themed-specific ritual I constructed to honor this god of mine. I don’t have much to do with horses. While they have the distinction of being the first “favorite” animal of mine (and while one of my grandmother’s favorite stories of me from my just-out-of-toddler-stages was to retell of our trip to the Big E and my exclamaning, lisps and all, “Look at all those muscles on those horses!”; I will forever remember my grandmother’s voice recounting that story!) horses, er, well? They rather intimidate me. The few chances I’ve had to go horseback riding I’ve always bowed out of. I’ll talk a good game about horses being treated like vehicles and the unfairness of it, and how I can walk, thank you very much — and it’s true that I’d much rather snuggle up with a horse than hop upon her back, maybe — but the truth, the real truth is, they scare me. They’re BIG animals, and I just . . .am intimidated. Fascinated, enraptured, yes, but also intimidated.
And humbled. And horrified at our treatment of them. It’s bad enough, that we abuse and slaughter so many — abuse is never good. But to abuse those who have such a close relationship to our advancement of a species? They’ve helped us win wars; they’ve helped us grow food to stay alive; they’ve helped us stay in touch with our families; they’ve been subjected to the horrors of mine work, and the only saving grace we have is that we are just as bad to humans who do not have the power to help themselves as we are to other animals who do not have the power to save themselves. Human miners, for example, suffered (suffer!) just as horrendously as mine ponies suffered. And, really, that’s an deplorable saving grace.
Yes, this is a bit of a downer, but these “festivals” of Poseidon’s often are. While I may have had things in mind like the birth of Pegasos and the association with horses in general that Poseidon has, from the very beginning this day has been about sending healing, energy, love, compassion, and empathy to the equines of the world. Originally horses, yes, but the zebras, the wild horses, the Mustangs and the Brumbies, the various donkeys, any and all wild equine out there — and all those in captivity, and all the domestic horses as well. My Lord, He does not really do boundaries. I think of those coming into the world, and I ask for His blessing upon them — not that He needs me to remind Him of those who could use His aid. But, I hold it in my mind, and in this small way, I feel closer to Him. I feel like what matters to Him matters to me. I feel — in this, as in so many other things, as though I hold suffering with Him, so that we witness it together, so that maybe we together can alleviate *some* of it for *someone*. It’s not enough. It’s almost nothing, and yet. Yet.
This year I scaled back. My honoring of Poseidon Hippios tends to vary from year to year. There are years when I’ve honored Poseidon and Loki, Sleipnir and Pegasos, and the Dioskouri. There are years when offerings have been apples and sugar cubes, carrots and oatcakes. This year? This year it was just Poseidon. It was wine and incense, baklava and a candle, and myself. Always there is Reiki; this year there was the breaking in of my 2015 “Letters to Poseidon” journal, a tradition I’ve let fall by the wayside and desperately want to resurrect. There was much singing. There was sitting and basking in His presence. There may have been crying.
There was also a reminder to keep things simple. It was going to be a big thing, originally. I was going to fetch carrot cake (because He made it clear days ago that He wanted/needed it to be a day for u/Us just to be, and so, yes, work toward Horse, but also just . . . u/Us.) and then process home with the offering. I was going to set up a new shrine space (by my bed, because I really need to do that). I already had the wine, and the venture out to get baklava was shorter and less involved than the carrot cake (and also, baklava) and the shrine was going to be made out of those connect-cubes, so I could also relocate much of my Hellenic books to the bedroom to clear up space for Fiberwytch storage in the living room. (Two people, a host of shrines, five non-human animals, and a store in 700sqfeet. It’s . . . interesting) But, those connect cubes) I hate them. An hour, a sore back, and tears later, and I gave up. We still don’t have comfortable seating in our living room (or any) and so sitting by the shrine doesn’t work, and our hearth shrine has become a test candle station, and a home to an Odin statue that has nowhere else to go, and I don’t begrudge Odin His statue, but I had nowhere cozy to set up this shrine except for in the bedroom and then the cubes fought back and grrr!
After a small melt down (there may have been tears) I erected a folding table and all was well, if temporary, and it was good. The whole time, the whole whole time I was getting so frustrated, He was there. “You know, I don’t really care about all the stuff. I mean, I like the stuff, there should be stuff, but right now I just want to be. I want to be, I want to be with you, I want you to see Me and just spend time with Me, being with Me. We don’t need all this stuff, the shrine isn’t necessary, I honor why you want it, but still it’s really not all that necessary. Okay, well, yes, go get baklava, let’s not be silly, but beyond that — well, that and the wine — I don’t need anything else . . . “
I dressed up. New lipstick, a new shirt, the skirt of mine that He call my housewife skirt. A new necklace (a Beth Wodandis original made especially for this holy day!). I sat, and we drank wine, and I sang some of o/Our songs, and I sent Reiki, and I wrote. I recited Terence’s hymn to Poseidon Hippios, and then I offered my own, off the cuff. I cried. I cried a lot, but they were tears of wonder, of joy, of . . . *waves hand helplessly*
This festival is always so different. It was today, April 10th, because it was my day off closest to the 8th. It’s in April because that is when I have time for it to be. Ages ago I had the idea of timing it to the local foaling time, but that varies so much and there isn’t really a set time. It’s moved, though, as I’ve moved. It hasn’t always been April, and it may not always be April. Who cares?
I discovered Rick Riordan’s Olympian series not long after the third book was released, though I put off giving the series a go until more of the books had be published because Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire long, long ago burned out any willingness on my part to get involved in anything longer than a trilogy before all the books had been released. I was excited about the series, but realistic, and while I pride myself on not being a genre snob, I have to admit that I do tend to automatically shy away from books or series that seem “too” popular. Because I don’t want to ever turn my nose up at a book based on other people’s opinions, I made myself read the first book once it was clear that the author would finish the series.
I remember not much liking it, but because, hey, Poseidon! I decided to try again a while after, in preparation to seeing the movie version. Really ought not have done so, because I discovered again that I didn’t much care for the book and I was set up to dislike the movie for changing so much as well as embracing what I think of as lazy writing. (Underworld beings as villains? How . . . original. I mean, the story was already written for you! Why did you have to change so much??)
This isn’t to say that I did not enjoy Kevin McKidd’s portrayal of Poseidon on the big screen. The opening scene where they pay homage to this statue as he’s coming out of the water? Pretty much makes the movie for me — even if Kevin makes too fair of a Poseidon for my taste.
Now, I know that a poor representation of the gods as characters is an age old story telling issue that goes back to Homer, that it is not a problem brought about by millennia of monotheist-dominated cultures. That said, it wasn’t Riordan’s writing itself, or even what could be seen as irreverence that bothered me — why should he write reverently about divinities he does not worship? While I feel I have an onus to write respectfully of gods and spirits, even when having them fulfill an antagonistic role in a story, and while I wish more pagan or pagan friendly writers shared that goal, I certainly don’t expect anyone else to. I simply enjoy stories more when respect is granted — yes, even while I know that a fictional representation may be just that: fiction. At the same time, I know the spirits and gods can use whatever tools come to hand, and if any of Them ever decided to use my fiction as a tool through which to reach someone, I want that tool to be respectful.
Considering the complexity of the interactions I’ve had with Dionysos (the relationship between Poseidon and Dionysos is, at best, a Mystery that I have on hopes of getting into words, and am not even going to try, but it has not ever been easy or necessarily pleasant, these brief interactions) the fact that the portrayal of Dionysos in the series was the most off-putting for me and thus is what turned me away from them after the first three books is somewhat amusing.
But then I was chatting about them in brief with Terence a while ago, and trying to explain why I didn’t care for them. And I thought: the series is finished now. Why not try again?
I’m not sure what’s changed about them, so much. I’m only halfway through the second book (for the second time) but I’m finding them entertaining-enough. I love, even without having read them, how they’ve brought an awareness of Poseidon to the minds of people who might not have come across Him. Yes, I know, fiction . . . but I don’t care. And I don’t hate how much easier it is to find trident images and pendants and jewellery now that it was twenty years ago.
So, to sum up: yay Poseidon!
On my last trip to the university’s library, I happened upon a book. I was looking for some books that might talk about maraj lwa, because while that is not the primary topic of the book Sacred Marriage that Beth and I are working on together, we do want to mention it, at least in brief. As someone who is outside of the traditions, I’m sensitive to the fact that the various African diaspora traditions are often represented poorly, and I want to avoid that. I also want to bring the subject up for possible compare-and-contrast (though, at the end of the day? I suspect the differences are less tradition-specific and possibly more individual-specific) I’m realizing that I’m likely going to have to contact actual people with my horribly bumbling questions as they come up, instead of going with book and article research, and to that end, if anyone knowledgeable wants to point me in proper directions, I won’t say no, and you’ll get a proper thank you in the acknoweldgements portion of the book!
Looking at books, when this gem caught my attention.
I’ll be honest: my first thought was, ooh, this could help deepen my understanding of Aphrodite. I don’t have a Matron in the Matron and Patron sense of the word, nor do I have a “main” goddess. If I had to name one, though, Aphrodite would be it. She championed for me, and for my role in my marriage before I could do so myself. While I attribute Hera and Aphrodite both in playing pivotal roles in saving my marriage when I was bound and determined to destroy it, Hera’s interest in me — while being kind and generous and warm — is not personal. I’m important to Her because I’m important to Poseidon, which is fine, because She’s important to me because She’s important to Him. This isn’t necessarily a bad foundation to start a relationship. But with Aphrodite? It was more than that.
I have wiggly understanding of Her and the faces of various spirits and gods that have gone into our understanding of who She is. I’m a polytheist, but I still think the gods and spirits play it a bit loose (or rather, can play it a bit loose) with faces and names and such. So, while I don’t think that Aphrodite=Osus=Yemeya=Freyja=Venus=Astarte, I do think that hard and fast lines of division between Them might be more our invention than Their own. I also think “Families” of gods and spirits can help us understand our own better. For this I mean cultural-to-the-spirits and not so much to our human understanding. In my experience, there is a kinship/sameness/sharing-of-language/understanding/being to the “water” divinities that renders them a culture unto their own. This is how, despite my no experience with, relationship with, or devotion toward Manannan, the theft of his statue cut me. He is, an a way, a cousin of my Beloved, and an affront to one is an affront to the whole.
So, I picked the book up thinking, it’s peripherally related to research I want to be doing anyway, and it binged my Aphrodite connection, and worse comes to worse, it’s about a water divinity, so why not? Why not?
I went in bracing, because I am a person with a somewhat “open” head. That is, I sense the gods and spirits around us. Not all of them, not all the time, but . . . enough of them, enough of the time. Often, when I look, I can get a sense of Them “looking” back, even if it’s just a cursory glance. (and it’s often no more than that, especially if they’re not starved for attention.) Osun is far from being starved for attention, but She looked back, and She was kind enough. She brushed aside my “not the right sort of person,” with brisk efficiency. She humored my “Aphrodite, right? A little? Some?” while taking me to task trying to understand something based on its likeness (or lack of) to some other thing. She gifted me with greater insight into my relationship with my mother, and a better appreciation of the nuances to be found within the African diasporic traditions — that is, when you have people, you have people, and no hard and fast descriptor is ever, EVER going to work as anything more than a general representation.
She lead me to a podcast about Olokun (find below). Now, I’m sitting with that. Because Poseidon is laughing, and is still, and is possessive and is encouraging, and is having too much fun with making my head hurt.
I’m not at a point where I’m that much of a syncretist that I can look to Narasimha or Matsya or Olokun and think: different faces for Poseidon in different places and times. But He’s been urging me to expand beyond the Mediterranean, with my studies. There’s this idea that I can find Poseidon reflected clearly in the faces of Others, and there’s a reminder that so much of what we know of Their worship is how humans interacted with Them in certain times, in certain places, within certain frame-works. If you’re trying to be of that tradition or if you’re trying to recreate a tradition inspired by those of the past, then having a more narrow focus is desirable.
I’m not. I’m interested in Poseidon, and I find the past fascinating, and parts of it do inform my approach . . .but I want Poseidon. Here, and now, in this world, by the many places He shows His interests to be, in the faces of the people who praise, honor, and worship Him. I am not going to say Olokun = Poseidon, because my experience that the being I know as Poseidon is a bit loose with names and faces (they are containers, if you will, and we all know how water will conform to the container it is in; it’s a bit like that) but also because He tells me that, well, yesno. More of a yes than when I ask about Neptune (and isn’t that interesting?) but still yesno. It’s not quite the response I get regarding Vishnu. It’s enough that I want to look into this being and His worship and history and faces and stuff.
I can’t look at these sorts of things and help but hold cultural appropriation in my mind. Should I even be looking in this direction? But I don’t know that learning about or reaching out to various Powers not of my culture is cultural appropriation. I’m not setting myself up as some great Knowledgeable Devotee of Olokun, for example. I’m just curious. There’s a seemingly natural (to Them) overlap or kinship, kindredship, something, between the Germanic/Scandinavian Powers, for example, and a number of the Powers within the African diaspora traditions, enough that I’m all neck-craning and “Oh, what’s over there? Whose Pops talking to?” I’m just . . . interested, in reading, in studying, and listening to others talk about their experiences, and maybe, maybe, maybe eventually setting up something temporary to say, ‘hi. You matter to my Beloved in ways I don’t quite understand, and I don’t have to matter to you, but this makes me inclined to hold affection in my heart for You and, here, have this drink.”
I dunno. It’s an interesting place, right now, is all.
Er. So! If you’re interested at all, and you can get your hands on it, the Osun book is fascinating. It was informative, the essays were many and varied. There is a maturity to how they speak of their devotion to their Powers, and a lack of apologies for having “out there” beliefs that i see too much in some pagan (my own, included!) writing, there’s a frankness in their struggles, and while I realize that jealousy and “I’m right, so and so is wrong,” is part of human nature, from the writing, there seems to be less of being threatened by other peoples different experiences with a god or spirit. Different roads to Them, is how it’s talked about, and I like that — not just because of the road and traveling and Odin.
And, also, this podcast was interesting to listen to. If I giggled like an idiot every time he mentioned Poseidon in a matter of fact way, it’s only because I don’t hear people talking about Him much, and it made me very happy.
Knowing yourself is only the first step. In some cases, it may be a long, involved first step. And, true, it’s a step that you never really leave. That self-awareness, that self-knowledge is important and it changes as you change.
I wrote a bit ago about writing as spirit work. (And I’m not the only one who writes about this. I was so very excited to see this article show up in my email by C.S. McCath!) I’ve written also, with excitement, writing goals for the year, and how I thought they were manageable, even with the working full time (three roughly 50k novels from start to finish and editing up the Poseidon novel) and really, if I am writing 10k in a weekend, it would be manageable. I even freed up some time in February to work on the writing. But then Beth and I added our Sacred Marriage book, and then I took on the Pagan Experience, and suddenly writing became a chore, and suddenly, I didn’t really want to write. Anything.
I’m not sure why I do this to myself, but I do it fairly regularly. Now, I’ve changed some habits of mine when it comes to writing that I’m glad to have changed — I’m writing regularly in that I haven’t written less that 100k words in a year, in three years now. I’ve decreased my down time, so that I’m writing more often than not. I’m accomplishing projects. This is good, and I’m glad for it. I’m proud of it, even.
My secret? My bad, shameful secret? I’m not a driven person. I’m not a person with burning, hot passions. There is, besides wanting to be blissed out in the awareness of Poseidon, nothing I want badly enough from the future to make myself suffer for it in the present. I am too constantly aware of mortality, of the finite-ness of existence, to work and work and work until I drop and then get up and work some more, in hopes of some future pay-out.
Knitting and meditation are my go-to forms for working through the mundane worries and chatter in my head. Yoga (when I can convince this body with its various, conflicting ailments, that we want to practice) and meditation is my go-to for connecting with Poseidon in a deeper way than my day-to-day chattering at Him. (Oh, crap. Am I part of the chatter in His head?). Writing the stories that come to me is my way of honoring both the non-Poseidon spiritual world around me and my place as a part of the spiritual world. Every time I come back to “I’m going to work full time on my writing, I’m going to be a Professional Author, and it’s going to be about producing material!”, writing becomes miserable. It’s not that the stories go away, because they don’t. It’s not even that anyone (er, Anyone) else gets on me for my approach . . . it’s this thing of joy and wonder and magic becomes a chore, a job, a task, and a task that has no heart in it for me, and I stop writing.
I knew years and years ago that I did not want to be a person consumed by one passion. I look at the people who are on fire for this one thing, this calling in their lives, and I don’t envy them. I have my calling, and I love my calling, but I don’t want to burn for it, and maybe that’s because my calling, as I see it, is not one simple thing. It’s to be Poseidon’s, in this world, and that’s not one simple thing. Even writing. Even with writing, I don’t want that to be the sum of all my parts. If my writing was more directly about Poseidon that might change, or so I say, but even when my writing is more about Poseidon, if I approach it with a MUST ACCOMPLISH IN X AMOUNT OF TIME I then because all writing meh.
I was upset about this, once again, yesterday. Shouldn’t I want to be driven? Shouldn’t I want to push myself? Shouldn’t I want these things? He says to me, “why are you worried about shoulds? Take the shoulds away, what do you want from yourself?” The answer always comes back to writing. And, I want to be disciplined when it comes to writing . . . but what I learned when I was working on McCredie’s story was, writing everyday does not work for me. Writing a chapter or two over two sittings is sustainable; working at a chapter or two a little bit every day for a week . . . it doesn’t bore me, exactly. It makes me feel depleted. There’s a certain amount of holding the scenes in my mind, poking at them, daydreaming about them over the course of the week, that lends them a potency, that lends me familiarity with them, that is as much a part of the story telling as the writing is. My best stories were handled that way.
Why do I ignore what I know of myself?
Poseidon shows me tidal energy. Not just the tides of the waters that rule our bodies so, but also the tidal pull of energy, and the cyclical nature of things. He reminds me of my bursts of obsession that come in small almost gentle eruptions, when all I want to do for a week or two is knit, or read, or write, or browse around. He reminds me that I’m at my most productive when I just let myself be. He reminds me that He did not become involved with me for some future person I might become, though He is curious also about how experiences will shape me, as we go. He asks me why I, then, seem only interested in this future self rather than honoring who I am now.
It sounds horrible, to admit that I’m not driven. That I’m not interested so much in striving-for, to the point that all I am is that striving. There are things I want. I want to support myself with my writing. . . . but not so much that I’m willing to make myself miserable writing in order to get that. And, I need to be more realistic with my goals. I need to keep it real.
And, this comes back to Poseidon’s influence in my life in this way: He does not allow me to get away with pretending to be other than I am. He . . . . celebrates? experiences joy? Loves me? . .. for who I am, and He has never once suggested that I am unworthy of His love or attention because I’m not driven toward one thing, because I’m not a passionate person. (He raises doubts about that passion, and He reminds me that when I’m before the sea I am nothing but passion, I am nothing but an ecstatic vessel that is consumed with yearning, and that I have moments of that even land-bound, but I mean in general. In general, i’m not passionate). He, more than me, insists that I keep it real.
May this lesson stick, this time. I swear I’ve gone through this before.
As a writer, every publication is exciting. For myself, every single time is like the first time all over again. Even though I blog, being published by someone who is not me, with other people doing as much if not more of the work (sorry, but writing is easy! It’s fun! I love it! Formatting for print? Oh, gods, save me!!) is nothing short of wonderful — and I’m as excited about Beth’s work being printed as I would be about my own.
Walking the World is a journal “devoted to an exploration of spiritwork and polytheism from a variety of traditions, ancient and modern.” The first issue centers around the topic of ancestors and hero cults, and there is a wonderful looking line-up of articles that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. Beth’s contribution is Assuming the Mantle: The Lessons of Queen Anne Boleyn.
The design of the journal is crisp and clean, simple and elegant, and very attractive. The subject matter presents a range of experiences from a number of different paths. For some time I have lamented the lack of serious theological and/or experiential topics from a polytheistic viewpoint presented in print. When I get in the mood to sit and do thematic study and contemplation, so often my starting point is outside of polytheism, because that’s what’s available. As much as I find value in looking at other faiths and traditions (because I find value in the bits that overlap, not because we are all the same but rather for the reminder of our being human, and to keep a clear eye on problems that can rise up, and the fact that those problems are or can be human problems and not so much religious problems), it is frustrating to not have an easy source for contemporary polytheistic viewpoints and subjects in print. So, I am doubly glad to see this journal see publication, and I wish everyone involved the best of success with it.
Juli D. Revezzo has a new story in it as well, The Gift of the Stag Maiden. There’s a slew of poetry that I can’t wait to get into as well as some essays by Erin Lale that I’m looking forward to reading. (this is a review heavy issue, which is absolutely wonderful to see!) Take some time between the hustle and bustle of the season to treat yourself to some great reading — and don’t forget to let others know about this great resource we have with Eternal Haunted Summer! Support your pagan authors and poets (and editors!)
Love, love, love to pieces this hymn to
Odin Poseidon* Psychpompos. This is another beautiful and timely piece of writing. Thanks,